The U.S. Patent Office has issued a patent for Automated Determination of Root Cause to Metso Automation USA Inc. The patent was developed by Metso's ExperTune team, and is used in the company's PlantTriage Control Loop Monitoring software.

The key to assessing a control loop is to locate the original root cause of upsets. The new patented method determines the most likely root cause using a "big data" technique, and Metso says it eliminates several costly and time-consuming steps in the problem-solving process.

''Our clients see the benefits in energy savings, production increases, and quality improvements,” George Buckbee, general manager, Automation, and the inventor of record, said in a company announcement. “With the proper training and methodology, a single engineer can perform like a large team of engineers.''

The new tools are available in the current release of Metso ExperTune PlantTriage software, which is an integral part of Metso's Control Performance Business Solution.

RELATED: Metso Acquires Industrial Software Company ExperTune Inc.

The new automated method gathers real-time data from hundreds or thousands of controllers. Then it looks at correlations between controllers, and especially at the effect of time-shifting on correlations. Since root causes usually appear as the first in a series of similar events, the software is able to identify the most likely root cause from this combination of correlation and time shift. Because the new technology does not rely on process models, it is very adaptable, and can be applied across many various unit operations, Metso says. This is especially important in complex process plants where interactions are complex, and accurate dynamic process models may not be available. Results of the automated analysis are displayed in a Process Interaction Map. The Process Interaction Map shows the relationship graphically, using bands of color to highlight the strongest correlations. For oscillatory interactions, the PlantTriage software also includes the Oscillation Details Problem-Solver.

The Advantages of Root Cause Analysis Tools:

  • Locates the root cause of routine variation in a manufacturing process.
  • Determines the root cause in quality upsets or alarms, as well as the variation under normal conditions.
  • The end-user needs no prior process knowledge. The cause can be determined without physical description of the process.
  • Prioritizes a list of likely root causes, displaying it in an easy-to-understand graphic.